Texas CB high on Cougs after Pullman visit

AFTER A VERBAL commitment to Rice, Chima Nwachukwu noticed his recruiting started to pick up more steam. Among the schools who inquired about the 5-10, 192-pound defensive back was Washington State. The hard-hitting Nwachukwu, whom the Cougars are recruiting as a corner, took an official visit to Pullman this weekend and came out of the trip glowing about the Cougs.

Nwachukwu, a first-team All-District selection from Allen, Texas, just outside of Dallas, has one final trip scheduled: for Feb. 2 to Rice. He verballed to the Owls in the fall before they made a coaching change. But the Cougs, who have offered, are now looking like the frontrunner, he said.

"They're definitely right there with Rice or maybe even above them -- because it's the Pac-10," said Nwachukwu, who has a self-reported 40 time of 4.5. "I can really see myself playing over there. Wherever I go, I'm going to give it my all. To have the opportunity to play (college ball) is big time for me. I know I'm going to have to earn a spot but given the opportunity, I know I can do it. The opportunity to play is really going to be my deciding factor."

With WSU graduating both of their starting corners from last year's team, Nwachukwu said he's more than a little intrigued at the thought of earning early playing time.

"Washington State is really exciting to me -- the campus, the football team. The town is really small but people really know each other well. The vibe I definitely caught when I was there was the team-like and family-like atmosphere. And the football team -- the chance to play in the Pac-10 -- that's really exciting to me," he said.

ON THE '06 SEASON, Nwachukwu racked up 90 tackles from his corner position, with four passes broken up and two interceptions. After a steady stream of in-home visits from schools last week, WSU assistant Leon Burtnett is scheduled to stop by for an in-home visit this week and Rice may also be coming by.

Some see Nwachukwu (5-10, 192, 4.5) at safety but the Cougs, he said, decidedly like him at cornerback, the position he played his senior year at Allen High, about 30 minutes north of Dallas. The two DB positions require different skills sets, both of which Nwachukwu looks to posess.

"Last year when I moved to corner, I wasn't really sure about it, wasn't really excited about it. But this year when I played it, I liked being the cover man and getting the opportunities that come with it. But I'll play anywhere. I'm a versatile kind of guy.

"The majority of the college coaches I've talked to say they see the potential for me to be a big time player...Washington State, Rice, (others) have said they like my footwork, and how I'm coming downhill and hitting people," added Nwachukwu.

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